Book Review: Two Christian Books about Vampires

This week, I’m mixing it up a bit and reviewing 2 books.  Random House/Multonomah & Random House/Waterbrook sent me two review copies, both about vampires.  I’m intrigued that Christian fiction is getting on the vampire bandwagon.  It’s about time, if you ask me, since the original vampire novel had strong Christian themes (I’m talking about Dracula, of course, which I reviewed here). 

And, as usual, Christian publishing is about three years behind schedule.  An editor at a Christian publishing house (which will go unnamed here), once told me that dirty little secret, and ever since, I’ve noticed that with all major publishing trends in the mainstream, it takes about three years for Christian Fiction to catch up.  Not good enough, folks.  We should be the trend setters…not the other way around. 

One of these books is fiction and one is nonfiction.  As you can probably expect, the fiction one isn’t the strongest of the two.  When it comes to Christian publishing, the nonfiction far surpasses the fiction, and the same is true here.

I actually really liked Touched by a Vampire and highly suggest it for anyone who has read the Twilight saga or is watching the movie.  There are a lot of spoilers for the last two books, though.  So, if you haven’t read all of them yet, and are planning to, I’d suggest finishing the books first.

 Beth Felker Jones has unpacked several main themes in the series and examined them from a Christian perspective.  And it’s very well thought out and backed up with scripture.  But I think my favorite aspect is that she recognizes the role that Stephanie Myers’ Mormonism played in crafting the series, and she calls out some of the ways that it differs from Christ centered thinking. 

The downside of the book is that Jones doesn’t find a lot of redemptive material in the series, which leaves her sounding completely against the books, which I think is unfair.  She gives them the occasional brownie point, but for the most part, it’s a long dissection of all the ways the stories fail.  I’d like to see a little more redemptive work here, on how the book can point people to Jesus, as I believe all fiction that touches on any truth can do. These books are resounding with people for a reason, and when there are so many needs being met by these books, it means there are connections to Jesus.

There are study questions in the back, and the chapters are short and manageable.  I’d suggest reading this book with your teenage daughter, who is obsessed with the series like many other girls her age.  The strong focus of the book is on how the series portrays love, and it’s an especially important topic for young women learning how to date and what real love looks like.

To learn more about the book from the publisher’s website, click here.

Now, I’ll transition to the fiction book from Waterbrook, called Thirsty.  Tracey Bateman has creatively linked two concepts of thirst, one of an alcoholic for a drink and another is the vampire and the thirst for blood.  And she combines both types of people in this story, which comes out a little uneven because the tones of the stories did’t match too well.  I felt like there were two books going on here, and they didn’t speak to each other as well as they were supposed to.  There could be a lot to say about overcoming sin, even if it’s a seemingly overwhelming urge and part of your nature, but sadly, the book didn’t address it much. In fact, if we were to glean a message about how to overcome sin from the book, it would have more to do with white knuckling it than Christ’s help. 

 Nina Parker is an alcoholic, torn from her family by her addiction and forced to move in with her sister in her former hometown, once she leaves rehab.  Nina’s teenage daughter joins her in the small town, just as several local murders are popping up.  Shortly after her arrival in town, we meet a dark character who lives next door, who is very obviously a vampire, obsessed with Nina.  So, Nina can’t stop thinking about alcohol, and he can’t stop thinking about her and her blood.

At least Myers explained the vampire lore, why they behaved the way they did, but Bateman picks and chooses her own vampire traits and doesn’t explain why her vampires are acting in certain ways.  They just are.  She does explain that the vampires inherit their vampirism, which is something I’d never heard of before.  And it feels even more separated from the long tradition of romantic vampire fiction because of these differences.

If you want to lure in people who typically read vampire fiction with a bit more redemptive version of the story, at least do your homework and make a nod towards the tradition they respect.  Even if it’s just Twilight!

But, if you’re dead set against your kids reading Twilight, this might be a better option for them, since the Vampire life isn’t glorified, and love looks a lot less destructive. 

I didn’t come away from this book with any deep revelations or insight into sinful desire and the ways to defeat it.  But it was a fast read, one sitting’s worth.  If you’re willing to put your brain on auto pilot and rush through a small town mystery, there are worse books to choose.

I applaud Bateman for stepping up and addressing this huge trend in fiction.  I just think it’s too little, too late.

If you’d like to learn more about Thirsty from the publisher’s website, click here.

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hear, hear! I agree we should be trend setters. That is exactly what I have attempted to do with my new novel, Angela 1: Starting Over. It’s the first of a series of three and the overall theme is “Where do we go from here?” If you would like to know more about it, please go to my website and check it out. Thanks!

    AL: I admit, I usually don’t approve messages by people who are self-promoting their own books (I get a ton of them). However, you’re the one exception who actually has read my blog post. So I’ve gotta give you some credit.

  2. This is interesting…

    I’ve “only” been a Christian for about two years. Before that I was a pagan, and really… REALLY into vampire “stuff.” I read all of the Harry Potter books and never got what the big deal was with fundamentalist Christians about these novels.

    Well now I *am* a fundamentalist Christian and I still raise an eyebrow at the issue. It’s been explained to me in a way that I can thankfully understand, but I cannot relate to the concept of such things being glorified. It just doesn’t look that way to me.

    Okay, okay, so maybe I’m backwards or something. I get that. But I also know that vampires, in their way (as with any mythical creature or force) are representative of something in our society or culture, even when they are put in a “good” light (as in Twilight). Whether that “thing” that they represent is evil, or a certain segment of society or *whatever* the thing that the vampire (or wizard or whatever) *represents* is real.

    There is a very real vehicle here that could be being used by Christian authors but is not. I’m not a Christian author: if I was, I suppose that I’d be giving it some consideration.

    All in all, you make some very interesting points. I’ve been flipping through your reviews looking for some recommendations, as I’ve challenged myself to 52 books in 2010 (I am a slower reader than many, and am not sure I’m going to make it) and though I have a stack of six waiting to be read, I was hoping for some good recommendations.

    Thanks.

    AL: Best of luck to you in your resolution for 52 books. I’ll be curious to see how you think the project goes. Hopefully, you’ll have a more positive experience than I did. If you’re interested, I did a review of a Harry Potter book that might speak to some of your questions. Here’s the link: https://amyletinsky.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/book-review-harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince/

    • Thanks for the link, Amy. That will make it easier to find them.

      As for the challenge, right now I’m on four and five (one of which is 1,100 pages long) and going pretty strong. I don’t know how I’m finding time to read with a two year old in the house, but I am.

      • I hope you make it 🙂

  3. I think that a reason why Christian publishing is behind is because its hard to acclimate Christians to such things. Speaking of personal experience of course. When I first read Twilight back in 2006 I was immediately chastised by most of my Christian family. They said how wrong it was and very demonic. I saw the connection to Jesus though. I think maybe if we opened up just a little we can become ahead of the curve.

    http://www.deirdreorr.wordpress.com

  4. I’m thinking through this as a pastor and now manager of a Christian book store. I currently work at Parable in Corvallis, Oregon. I’m interested in this topic. I have always loved sci-fi and a huge Star Wars fan. What are the dangers of a Vampire series written by a Christian author…or maybe better said, a Christian Vampire Series? What are the positives? What will happen to Christian book stores and how will they respond to the knocking at the door of such literature. I wonder what people thought of C.S Lewis or Tolkien when their work came out?

    Love in Christ,

    Kevin

    AL: Wow, good questions Kevin. Worth asking and pursuing.

  5. We should be trend setters not followers… and writing books about vampires… and zombies.. is following… i admit i have not read the books…. but the word says we should stay away from this type of stuff 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 and having christian type themes in something does not make it appropriate reading material for believers.


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